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Lesley Plücker

Investigating plant pathogen interactions: Plant responses during infection with the Brassicaceae smut Thecaphora thlaspeos & Functional characterization of the smut fungal virulence factor Pit1

Smut fungi are a group of plant-pathogenic fungi that infect important crop species. Thus, smuts like Ustilago maydis, Ustilago hordei or Sporisorium reilianum were studied intensively over the last years. While infection can be devastating for the host plants, the smut fungus Thecaphora thlaspeos establishes a long-lasting biotrophic interaction with its host plants without causing any symptoms.

I am interested in elucidating how its host plant Arabis alpina responds towards T. thlaspeos infection on a transcriptome level during different stages of infection.

In order to establish this biotrophic interaction pathogens depend on secreted effector proteins and virulence factors. A virulence factor highly upregulated during T. thlaspeos infection is Pit1. I am interested in elucidating the virulence function of Pit1 in T. thlaspeos. 

Starting date: 01.02.2018 / Associated Doctoral Researcher

Thesis committee members: Vera Göhre, Michael Feldbrügge, Laura Rose


Frantzeskakis L, Courville KJ, Plucker L, Kellner R, Kruse J, Brachmann A, Feldbrugge M, Gohre V. 2017. The Plant-Dependent Life Cycle of Thecaphora thlaspeos: A Smut Fungus Adapted to Brassicaceae. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 30: 271–282.